Friday, April 8, 2011

Museums and the Web 2011

I am in geek land surrounded by shiny new iPad 2s and a sea of tweeters - to be precise I am at Museums and the Web 2011 in Philadelphia, the annual get together of those of us interested in this space. There are apparently nearly 700 of us here from 23 countries. It has a similar buzz as my last attendance in 2009 in Indianapolis, the difference being that this could almost be called Museums and Mobiles, such is the focus on where mobile technology and use is taking us.

Lots to comment on, but I will confine this blog to the opening plenary this morning from Kristen Powell of the Pew Research Centre talking about their Internet and American Life project. Kristen's mission was to update us as museum folk on the latest data on the rise of mobile internet use and social media to help us to identify how these trends are shaping the way that content orientated organisations like museums interact with our audiences.

What came out of her presentation is best summarised in bullet point form. Bear in mind it is US data, but the trends it indicates are in my view global:

  • In 2000 46% of adults used the internet and 53% owned a mobile phone. There was no social networking. Those figures in 2010 were 74% used the internet and 85% owned a mobile phone (surprisingly low in my view). 25% of households do not now have a landline.
  • 69% of internet users, which is half of all American adults, watch videos on line and 14% have uploaded their own video content.
  • Those going on line daily from their phone rose from 36% to 55% last year alone.
  • A typical teenager sends 50 texts a day with 33% of teenagers sending over 100 texts per day.
  • 40% of internet users access social networking sites (SNS) daily with older adults (those over 65) the fastest growing sector, partly because younger adults are already at a very high percentage use.
  • Only 8% of internet users use Twitter compared to 61% for other SNS, i.e. Twitter is not that popular particularly with teenagers.
There were lots more stats, but in summary the emerging themes are that information gathering is becoming portable, participatory and personalised.

So what Kristen sees our role as museums as increasingly being is:
  1. A filter - providing trustworthy information, that is relevant and directly accessible, e.g. by app.
  2. Curators - collecting all relevant material and linking to primary and secondary sources.
  3. A node in a network - making it easy to network, and being prepared to loosen control of content.
  4. Community builders - sharing experiences and listening to feedback.
  5. Tour guides - connecting content to real world locations, using such tools as geo location and augmented reality.
More from Philadelphia shortly!

Julian Bickersteth
Managing Director

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